This is the Chavez life

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July 2nd 2007
Published: July 2nd 2007
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Where In The World Are We?


Whilst his slogan should immediately give you some clue that this man has some dictator-type tendencies, there are many here that consider him a god. One guy on hearing that we were from South Africa was quick to point out - “Ahh, Chavez is doing a lot for your country.” We almost believed him, until his next question was whether South Africa bordered with the United States.
After 4 memorable months, it was finally time to say goodbye to Brazil and hello to Venezuela - the land of free petrol and no eggs.

Venezuela is an interesting, but not too welcoming of a place to visit. Political tension is always in the air and the communist mood is inescapable. We had to quickly get used to societal climate change - coming from the warm, caring Brazilian people to the cold, unconcerned Venezuelans.

The socialist president, Hugo Chavez, recently said something along the lines of “what the Americans don’t understand is that Hugo Chavez is not just Chavez, Hugo Chavez is Venezuela”, and whilst he may be slightly delusional, he is certainly doing a good job of convincing the majority of the population. Using the country’s wealth of oil money to finance his so-called “revolution”, he has also made sure his picture is everywhere, and alongside everything the government is constructing (even the simplest of road-works) there is always a huge billboard with his face on it.

However, at the time we were there, he had just very controversially shut down one of the major TV channels, and the tide seemed to perhaps be changing direction.
Chocolate Magic Chocolate Magic Chocolate Magic

Before leaving Brazil we were advised to carry lots of Brazilian chocolates with us to make the numerous army check-points a lot smoother. However, at this checkpoint, while Tom was busy with the paperwork, Liba somehow managed to smooth-talk this soldier into actually giving her some of his chocolates!
One or two people even hinted at the possibility of a real revolution to oust him out of power.

One thing for sure is that on leaving Venezuela we will definitely not miss having his cheesy smile shoved in front of our faces every day.

Odometer at start: 33 900 km
Odometer now: 43 521 km

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 23


Welcome to the North Welcome to the North
Welcome to the North

Crossing the Equator
Indian Village Indian Village
Indian Village

Immediately after crossing the border, the landscape dramatically changes from the Brazilian jungle to the Venezuelan grand savannah.
Getting Ripped-Off Getting Ripped-Off
Getting Ripped-Off

Carelessly, we forgot to fill up at the town of Santa Elena by the border, which was the last chance to buy diesel for a long while. In the end, we found some at this small Indian village where these 4 boys were only glad to sell some to us at about R3.50 a litre, which seemed cheap to us at the time, until we found out the true price of diesel here…
Self-Service with a Smile Self-Service with a Smile
Self-Service with a Smile

At only 15 South African cents a litre, you can pretty much fill up your tank with the equivalent of a R5 coin – which always made our day!
The Flip-Side of the Coin The Flip-Side of the Coin
The Flip-Side of the Coin

Because petrol is so dirt-cheap here, everybody drives massive (usually American) cars, and almost all trucks run on petrol, and not diesel. All this means that the air is filthy and the taste of exhaust fumes is always in your mouth.
Good Morning Sunshine Good Morning Sunshine
Good Morning Sunshine

We met an adventurous couple from Chile in Ciudad Bolivar and they joined us on our way to Margherita Island. It ended up being one crazy night. The ferry arrived right on (South American) time and we only got to the island in the early hours of the morning. Being to cheap to pay for a full-night’s fee at a hotel for just a few hours sleep, we ended up parking the car in some long grass by the beach and caught some sleep until the sun came up.
Raul and Dani Raul and Dani
Raul and Dani

The Chilean couple the morning after. They look peaceful here, but don’t be fooled – they are a wild, energetic, very positive, yet slightly hippie team that are traveling all the way from the south of Chile to Alaska. They are almost always broke, but keep themselves going by selling handicrafts like necklaces and earrings, which they learnt to make from other craft-sellers on bus-trips through Bolivia. They are also filming themselves along the way with a camera they managed to convince Sony to sponsor and hope to make a marketable documentary of it all once they’re done.
Care to Treat Yourself to an Egg Care to Treat Yourself to an Egg
Care to Treat Yourself to an Egg

Another interesting outcome of Chavez’s policies – Due to rising inflation, Chavez has fixed the prices at which producers can sell certain basic items, like eggs. Unfortunately, many producers have just given up producing these items, feeling it is just not worth it. So, things like eggs, and occasionally milk too, every so often become a rarity, and beach-sellers make a killing selling these “delicacies” at almost R5 a pop.
Fishing School Fishing School
Fishing School

An instructor teaching his students how to throw a net at the small fishing village of Tacarigua.
The Way to get your Hair Cut The Way to get your Hair Cut
The Way to get your Hair Cut

In your underwear, in the fresh air, and with the morning newspaper.
Ivan Pastich and his Mango Brew Ivan Pastich and his Mango Brew
Ivan Pastich and his Mango Brew

We rented a room from this ex-Ukranian, and treated ourselves to the delicious mangoes from his trees until our digestive systems could take no more.
Revenge for Steve Irwin Revenge for Steve Irwin
Revenge for Steve Irwin

Such a shame. You can also buy shark meat very easily here. It’s no surprise we didn’t see much wildlife on our scuba trips.

Ok, we’re not proud of this, but the last time we saw a Wendy’s was at least 15 years ago!
No, this is not a Parking Lot No, this is not a Parking Lot
No, this is not a Parking Lot

This is what traffic looks like in Caracas
The Living is Easy The Living is Easy
The Living is Easy

The lesser known Caribbean Islands of Chichiriviche

1st May 2011
Welcome to the North

Real cool
Hey man, nice picture. Y'all seem to have it made.

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